{ whole / year }

 

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A year ago, {isacoustic*} released Heather Minette’s Half Light.

Had and still have, for its words, these:

As a child, I told my mother the alphabet was broken after I’d seen it, for the first time, written down. Something about it, there, all in one place. Also, I wouldn’t hold my breath in front of my action figures. I tell you these, here, because it seems necessary to repeat them as is, as summoned, in my reading of Heather Minette’s Half Light. These are poems of ash and glyph. Of men who believe cigarette over bridge and of women who sculpt faces that their own might become unstuck. These are stories, really. Cloaked urgencies. The statuesque inevitable. I saw things in this book and looked from them to see myself, in the mirror, answering a telephone. Minette fashions spirituals for the plainly dressed and has an eye, not only for detail, but for detail’s double. In Half Light, death has only ever happened once, and is resurrection’s safe space. In Half Light, Minette is six years old, nine years old, thirteen years old, and then born knowing age has nowhere to leave its mark. How does one flee exodus? Or record the unnoticed blip of reckoning? How is the firefly not more known for its time spent as darkness? I didn’t read it here, but remembered, while here, that I read, elsewhere…how mail carriers don’t believe in the afterlife. Minette conjures first, responds later. This is a patient language. This, an abbreviated yearning. A father goes from storyteller to jokester because, when laughing, we all weigh the same. If there is mourning, there is also the chance to rename the toothless mermaid identified by her hair. If there is a passing, there is also a poet who knows that loss is, at best, a ghostwriter. Minette knows what she’s doing. To read this book is to haunt its absence.

~

for purchase, amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Half-Light-Heather-Minette/dp/1387874209

for purchase, barnes & noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/half-light-heather-minette/1128985743?ean=9781387874200

on goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40533588

{ some words at poetrybay on Heather Minette’s Half Light }

pavey

https://www.facebook.com/notes/poetrybay/19-for-19-big-voices-from-places-small-and-large/2129051537145783/

~

review of Heather Minette’s Half Light by George Salis:
https://isacoustic.com/2018/06/20/a-review-of-heather-minettes-half-light-by-george-salis/

review of Heather Minette’s Half Light by Sara Moore Wagner:
https://isacoustic.com/2018/06/18/sara-moore-wagners-review-of-heather-minettes-half-light/

review of Heather Minette’s Half Light by Crystal Stone:
https://isacoustic.com/2018/07/09/a-review-by-crystal-stone-of-heather-minettes-half-light/

~

Half Light on goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40533588-half-light?from_search=true

~

for purchase:

from Barnes and Noble
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/half-light-heather-minette/1128985743?ean=9781387874200

from Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Half-Light-Heather-Minette/dp/1387874209

from Lulu
http://www.lulu.com/shop/heather-minette/half-light/paperback/product-23679092.html

a review by Crystal Stone of Heather Minette’s ~Half Light~

Heather Minette’s “Half-Light” unstrands the ends of experience: the moment, the memory and the space in between. They exist together in her grief that spans the collection of poems and metamorphose into intentionally half-illuminated meditations. Her poems are dewy with privacy, the light before the sun has risen in full. The opening line becomes a metaphor for the poet and reader relationship. She, too, is the kaleidoscope and while reading we believe, “I still see her sometimes / in fragments.”

And if kaleidoscopes distort, her work, too, kaleidoscopes the light of fiction and reality, exposing the true topography of memory. She shows it as “momentary hope,” but also as pain, as absence, as passively omnipresent. With each poem, memory places a different role. Half-new, half what it was before.

While walking in the half-light of her reflections, she instructs readers how to understand her. Her poem, “A Silent Promise,” seems to be just as much an act of ars poetica as it is a personal meditation of a factual event. “Her tone is too familiar / and the rain does not stop.” She warns us who she is and where we’re going in the poem. But we don’t want to look away. In her book, like in her poem Revival, “the wind blew from two different directions, / giving shoulders a reason to touch.” We’re drawn to look right into the wind.

The chaos is both nostalgia and a reason for connection. We find ourselves, like her, “tripping… over idle memories” she left for us, the way she did in black high heels. She gives us the door to our own closet, our own past and says have a seat, your body thanks you for coming. It’s not about her, in the end, but us–where we go when we meet her.
When reading, I see myself, like her and her brother in Christmas ‘88, “wearing matching red sweaters.” We’re drinking tea and there we are, back in memory, separately together–the way any strangers become quiet when they’re suddenly intimately connected and the past becomes their present together.

In her poems, she awakens what we’ve buried or forgotten, gently. Her words are a hand, the faint memory of the rain leftover in pastel clouds and puddled sidewalks. She makes us unafraid of the mud that might smear on our skin as we read. We’re not afraid to skin our knees.

~

review by Crystal Stone

~

Crystal Stone is currently pursuing an MFA at Iowa State University and has given a TEDx talk on poetry. Work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tuck Magazine, Writers Resist, Drunk Monkeys, Coldnoon, Poets Reading the News, Jet Fuel Review, Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle, North Central Review, Badlands Review, Green Blotter, Southword Journal Online, BONED, Eunoia Review, and Dylan Days.

~

Half Light is available here:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/heather-minette/half-light/paperback/product-23679092.html

Falling- from Heather Minette’s Half Light

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Half Light is available here:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/heather-minette/half-light/paperback/product-23679092.html

release announcement:
https://isacoustic.com/2018/06/15/heather-minettes-half-light-release-announcement/

review by George Salis:
https://isacoustic.com/2018/06/20/a-review-of-heather-minettes-half-light-by-george-salis/

review by Sara Moore Wagner:
https://isacoustic.com/2018/06/18/sara-moore-wagners-review-of-heather-minettes-half-light/

Kaleidoscope- from Heather Minette’s Half Light

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Half Light is available here:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/heather-minette/half-light/paperback/product-23679092.html

release announcement:
https://isacoustic.com/2018/06/15/heather-minettes-half-light-release-announcement/

review by George Salis:
https://isacoustic.com/2018/06/20/a-review-of-heather-minettes-half-light-by-george-salis/

review by Sara Moore Wagner:
https://isacoustic.com/2018/06/18/sara-moore-wagners-review-of-heather-minettes-half-light/

a review of Heather Minette’s Half Light, by George Salis

How to describe Heather Minette’s Half Light? Half-asleep, “half-awake,” half-empty, “half-asking,” half-full, “half-note,” half-life, “half-moon,” half-dark, “half-light.” Each poem is a sparse vignette (in both meanings of the word), mostly colloquial in tone and expertly half-finished in a way that allows for a cosmos of unremembrances to enclose every stanza, navigated by a vague meditation.

Across these pages, Minette is mourning memory and remembering mourning. For example, in “Christmas ’88,” while the narrator watches a VHS of Christmas past with her brother, noting that the family members in the video are changed or deceased or both, she is struck with a spasm that causes her to knock her brother’s wine glass onto the rug and “I watch the kidney-shaped stain fade from purple to gray/ and I will it to settle,/ so that if I lose him like the others,/ there will be tangible history/ of this night/—a memory recorded.” Mistakes, imperfections, even ugliness itself, can serve as reminders of the past, which is wont to become fonder with the exponential avalanche of hours, days, years, lifetimes. Or, more accurately, the looming of our future return to earth’s soil. Eventually the future becomes the present, then irrevocably the past, a seemingly obvious phenomenon that is all too easily forgotten in the immediate focal point of the quotidian. Yet it can all spiral, crisscross, and tangle.

One of the narrator’s earliest pre-mourning memories, or half-mourning, is realizing in  “Sand Mermaids” (half-human, half-fish) that her artistic mother is not a god, as the vantage of early childhood makes parents seem, but impermanent “like the spring flowers/ that wither in the summer heat,/ the papier-mâché faces that fall from tall bookshelves,/ the glass dishes that break on tile floors,/ and the sand mermaids that wash away/ in the morning tide…” With this, Minette allows us to peer at her peering into the ethereal river of instance and flux, as Marcus Aurelius noted across time, near the beginning of the common era.

As it is with her mother, so it is with her father at an unspecified time probably later in life. At her father’s best friend’s funeral, the narrator of “A Silent Promise” describes how her father transforms grief into humor and “the heavy air unfolds with laughter.” Yet, while walking to the car, she makes a promise to herself regarding her father’s inevitable funeral, or perhaps the world as whole, “When you can’t be there, we’ll still laugh./ I swear to God I’ll make them laugh.” Like sex, humor can ward off death, or at least ameliorate it.

There are recurrences of glass, flowers, rooms and their walls, some wine (half-full, half-empty), some cigarettes (half-ash, half-paper), orchestrated and enwrapped in melancholy, for in these faded word-photographs the reader’s irises catch flashes and exposures of mortality in its varied but unified forms. Sometimes definite, as with the “infant graves/ of Parker Cemetery” in “Small Hand,” sometimes indefinite, as with the woman of  “Portrait of a Gypsy,” in which the narrator explains that the woman’s “left arm cradled her empty stomach.” It’s a simple image that evokes complex insinuations: the famine of the destitute, the hollowness of a dead or aborted or missing child, the pain of some internal illness. It’s the peripheral that can create “an abyss that sings….” Lulling, distracting, communicating in a familiar yet esoteric tongue.

It’s not a mystery as to why the word ‘oblivion,’ which comes from the Latin for ‘forget,’ is associated with both the sleep of consciousness and the sleep of sleep, Hypnos and Thanatos. “If I had the courage/ I’d ask you to remember….” The mere act of remembering, or evoking it in someone else, is an act of courage, for it temporarily defies the Sleep, taunts it even.

And when we cease to remember, we cease in part to exist, neuron by neuron. The narrator’s friend in “Cindy Sue Moved to the Country” “talks with her hands/ like her father,/ the left in a circular motion/ above her head,/ willing into existence/ a forgotten word.” I first read the last word as ‘world,’ only to reread and realize that it was, in fact, ‘word.’ I believe this mental Freudian slip is indicative of a truth that is one and the same: the world exists in words (as well as in ancient images), and vice versa. And Cindy Sue’s forgotten word is ostensibly never remembered by either of them, only remembered, if at all, as a void.

And the void takes varied forms, too. Echoing Nietzsche, Minette describes in “Flo, Texas” “a sky that doesn’t end,/ that exists to gaze back,/ to remind you that you came from somewhere,/ that your history is no one’s/ history but your own.” Our histories coalesce to form History, the former perhaps too small, the latter too large. We must bridge the gap, the void, the abyss, with expression, with art and words, with remembrance both singular and collective.

In “Returning Home from Adam’s Funeral,” the narrator puts away the occasion’s black dress in the back of her closet, where it will remain buried, for even if she washed it and wore it in a foreign country, she still “would wear the sadness.” If this book were clothing, you’d wear it, too. For all the sadness, Half Light is full-hearted.

~

review by George Salis

~

George Salis is a Swiss-American writer. He is the recipient of the Sullivan Award for Fiction, the Ann Morris Prize for Fiction, and the Davidson Award for Integrity in Journalism. His fiction is featured in The Dark, Black Dandy, The Missing Slate, CultureCult Magazine, NILVX: A Book of Magic, Quail Bell Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, and elsewhere. His criticism has appeared in Atticus Review and The Tishman Review, and his science article on the mechanics of natural evil appeared in Skeptic. He is the author of the novel Sea Above, Sun Below. He has taught in Bulgaria, China, and Poland.

~

Half Light is available here:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/heather-minette/half-light/paperback/product-23679092.html

Sara Moore Wagner’s review of Heather Minette’s ~Half Light~

Heather Minette’s collection Half Light is an exploration of death, both real and imagined, of people and of romance. It moves from a child-like fear of death, of the loss of a parent, to a mature portrait of how to deal with the loss of a child and a lover. Minette has the keen ability to relocate the reader into these often simple, domestic spaces through unadorned imagery wound around an emotional core. Lines like “I tell them he is not here. / And the Fireflies are gone, too” (from “Penitentiary”) convey this loss in simple, but profoundly moving terms.

The first section ends with the poem “Sand Mermaids” where she compares the impermanence of her mother to “papier-mache faces that fall from tall bookshelves,” an image which captures the ethereal and often panic-inducing feeling of the loss which awaits us all as we transition from childhood to adulthood.

The collection often feels like “a poem that writes itself through an open window” (from “Carryin’ On”). We catch glimpses of the speaker from the inside and the outside, like a wistful memory or observance. She shifts between first and third person, reflecting back and forth between the speaker and the mirrored image of the speaker, allowing the reader access to both sides of the frame in an innovative and interesting way.

The half-light of Heather Minette’s Half Light ends up not feeling gray or dull, but blonde and sunny as a child at the end of a long day. Every poem is full of both fear and loss, but a certain amount of domestic, Southern charm, be it in the references to country music like Johnny Cash or Patsy Cline, or in the landscape observations, or the cool narrative voice of the speaker. We’re left with not brokenness from loss, but a speaker who, “says these stars shine just for me” (from “December”). This book is ultimately about the light and not the darkness in the half-light, about how to find hope in this tired world.

~

review by Sara Moore Wagner

~

Sara Moore Wagner is the Cincinnati based author of the chapbook Hooked Through (Five Oaks Press, 2017). Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies including Glass, Gulf Stream, Gigantic Sequins, Stirring, Reservoir, and Arsenic Lobster, among others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart prize, and was a recent finalist for the Tishman Review’s Edna St Vincent Millay Prize. Find her at http://www.saramoorewagner.com.

~

Half Light is available here:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/heather-minette/half-light/paperback/product-23679092.html